Overcoming the Challenges of Youth…of all things!

                       

 “Once you can prove to them that there’s a reason you’re in your          position, it’s a lot easier for them to respect you,” Ray Land. (Ray started his own business, Fabulous Coach Co., as a teenager. His company now exceeds $4 million in annual sales).

As a young professional, I find myself hurdling new obstacles on a daily basis. This is to be expected for a person fresh out of college and merging into the business world. Many of these issues can be overcome with plenty of hard work and dedication. However, there is one thing I cannot bypass: my age. So the question is, how can I gain the trust of an owner or decision-making principal of a company with very little professional experience?

Naturally, knowledge comes along with years of experience. With that being said, I have developed several strategies in my time at Skyline that have helped me get in the door, and then develop the respect that is essential towards closing deals. I believe that these things have set me apart from other 24-year-old young professionals. If this blog helps just one young professional shorten their learning curve in their career path, then my goal will be accomplished.

A primary rule that I follow is always dressing for success. I always wear a suit and tie when knocking on doors or attending professional meetings and this clearly separates me from my age group in the business world. This immediately gives me a significant amount of credibility, even if it is just how I look. I believe it conveys respect towards the client and shows that you have taken that extra effort to make yourself appear as professional as possible. If first impressions are everything, your customers will immediately realize that you are serious about doing business if you show up dressed to impress.

Besides the dress code, there are several other rules that I adhere to. Be punctual. Show up to meetings early with a sufficient amount of time to prepare yourself. Contact the customer before you arrive to confirm your appointment. This proves to the customer that you are diligent, organized, prepared, and excited. But again, BE PUNCTUAL! Turn your cell phone on vibrate or completely off. There is nothing more disrespectful than your phone going off when you are trying to establish credibility. If this ever does happen by accident, apologize profusely and beg for forgiveness!

Another component in my success thus far has been “tactful persistence” in following up with a prospective client. I have come to realize there is a fine line between being persistent and pestering a client. Following up with them in a reasonable amount of time defines you as not being too pushy, which can kill a deal. But in that process, be aggressive yet flexible and understanding. Finding that balance is not something I can elaborate on in detail. You just have to be able to read the signs the client is giving you and either push forward or back off. There have been several times that I backed off and got a call months after I initially made the call, all ending in deals!

Some other very basic tips I can give you fall under the common sense category, yet I find that is not the case for a lot of young professionals. Fortunately for me, I was born and raised in the South and because of that, I was taught early that patience and manners are not optional. These traits have helped me immensely and have also helped me tremendously when meeting with much older clients. “Yes Sir”, and “Yes M’am” answers are a must for young professionals. Showing respect is a sign of character. And if people do business with the people they know, like, trust, or admire, showing simple gestures of respect will put you into one of those categories of character immediately and will ingratiate your customer with your manners.

I also try to convey to my customers that although I am young, I am ambitious and humble to learn new things. God gave me two ears and one mouth for a reason, so I try to listen more than I speak. If I am unfamiliar with an aspect of the conversation, I humbly ask my client questions, and make them feel that I am grateful for the opportunity to learn from them, or anybody…and I am!

At the end of the day, wiser more experienced professionals can smell a “starvin’ salesman” a mile away. So carry yourself well, dress well, be respectful, be tactfully persistent, show manners, turn the phone off, and above all…speak with confidence. Believe in what you have to offer. Know that you can legitimately help the person in front of you and they will respond accordingly.

Following these simple guidelines will give you a huge head-start over the competition no matter what age you are, but especially if you are young like me.

All the best,

Casey Price –Executive Business Development

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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US Congress: Do as we say, not as we do.

  If you haven’t been paying attention to the news lately, you have clearly missed the obvious: the American political system is not only broken, but grossly incompetent and corrupt. Over the course of the last several months I have noticed an alarming number of reports detailing this fleecing of tax payers dollars and lack of leadership in Washington. Now more than ever, Americans are looking to our elected representatives to help get us out of this anemic economy, help create jobs, and release our future from the unbridled debt and deficit that hovers and looms. However, if that is our only plan and/or saving grace, you might want to consider what the eventual outcome will be based on hard evidence of greed and self-interest found in Washington today

According to The Tennessean in an article published on November 16th of this year “Congress includes 249 millionaires. The median wealth: $891, 506, (is) almost nine times the typical American measured by income”. That means that 47% of the people making financial policy decisions for you and I are millionaires. In Tennessee alone, just 4 of our  congressmen are worth a reported $138 million dollars. And that number does not even reflect their primary homes because of disclosure guidelines. How does this reflect a representative government of average Americans? It doesn’t.

The more alarming aspect of these statistics is that our congressmen are leaving Washington with “more money in their pockets than they had when they arrived,” according to a report by Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes on November 14th of this year. According to Peter Schweizer in the report, “Its really the way the rules have been defined. And the people who make the rules are the political class in Washington. And they’ve conveniently written them in such a way that they don’t apply to themselves.”

For instances, a minimal tenure in Congress allows for lifetime benefits in pension and health care. And ironically, members and ex-members of Congress will not have to participate in the new “Obama-care” healthcare legislation. Schweizer also goes on to disclose in the report that Congress is not subjected to adhering to insider trading laws governed by the SEC, “If you are a member of Congress, those laws are deemed not to apply. Corporate executives, members of the executive branch and all federal judges are subject to strict conflict of interest rules. But not the people who write the laws.” He points out that during the health care debate, leaders (Boehner) were trading health care stocks and making huge profits and during the financial crisis of 2008, they (Pelosi) were dumping their stocks before the rest of America even knew what was going on based on their closed-door knowledge of impending legislation. And guess what? According to the rules written and governed by Congress, all of this is totally legal.

In another report by 60 Minutes the week before, Lesley Stahl interviewed Jack Abramoff, Americas most infamous felonious political lobbyist, which disclosed the fact that a job in Washington is merely a stepping stone to financial security. In that report he stated that “When we would become friendly with an office and they were important to us, and the chief of staff was a competent person, I would say or my staff would say to him at some point, ‘You know, when you’re done working on the Hill, we’d very much like you to consider coming to work for us.’ Now the moment I said that to them…that was it. We owned them. And what does that mean? Every request from our office, every request of our clients, everything that we wanted, they’re gonna do.”

And don’t get me started on the effectiveness of our leadership’s responsibilities to use tax payer’s money wisely. Have you taken a look at the balance sheets, income statements, or projected cash-flows of Medicare, Medicaid, or the US Post Service lately? The last of which has been losing billions of dollars annually for years and just recently reported a $5.1B loss for their fiscal year that ended September 30, while also  laying off 130,000 people this last year.

All of these accounts point to the glaringly obvious fact that our elected leaders have done the exact thing that the founding fathers tried to prevent which was government greed and abuse of legislative powers. Congress has systematically and cleverly excluded themselves from laws that are written for all Americans to the audacious benefit of themselves. They make policy decisions of today based on posh lobbying jobs promised them tomorrow, and don’t have the fortitude to make the tough decisions facing our country’s future. Because if they were to actually lead, and make the hard changes necessary to right the ship, they will become unpopular and won’t get elected. And trust me, getting re-elected takes a dramatic precedence over leadership in American politics today.

Public office was designed to be a privilege, and honor, not a resume builder or investment in future financial security. The media has spent an enormous amount of time highlighting the “Occupy Wallstreet” protests all over the nation. And I can’t say that I disagree with the unrest with Wallstreet. But until average, everyday Americans organize an “Occupy Washington” protest that demands strict rules for the ones that write laws for the rest of us during and after their “service” to our country, America will continue it’s downward spiral into insolvency and economic atrophy.

Until next time…

Jason Ritchason -President/Owner

A Percentage Here and a Percentage There…

Chipping away at expenses can produce increased profits.

A Percentage Here and a Percentage There Can Double Profits

By Sandy Horwitz & Deryk Konhauzer

A restaurant whose gross sales are $3,000,000 with a net profit after operating expenses of $150,000 can double their profits by cutting costs by single digit percentages! For example, if prime costs (defined as all food & beverage costs + all payroll related costs, including gross payroll for all managers, hourly employees, payroll taxes, benefits and workers compensation, etc.) are decreased by 3% and operating expenses lowered by 2%, say hello to an additional $150,000 in NET profit due to a miniscule 5% of savings thanks to good decision-making.

It goes without saying that the restaurant industry is a penny business-some would even say a half-penny business. Purchasing at times can be a tricky game. What if a vendor changes the price of beef? What if the vendor was charging $100 for 8 pounds of beef and recently upped the price to $103? Sometimes, a restaurant operator may ponder, “Is it worth stirring the pot with a vendor over three dollars?” The answer is YES it is worth it. In this instance, the three dollars represents 3% percent of $100. If you apply the three dollars to $3,000,000 in gross sales you have $90,000 that you pick up in profit.

Now let’s talk operating expenses. Is it really necessary to keep the air conditioner on its coolest all the time? Are you getting the best rates on linens and flatware, insurance, cleaning and office supplies, etc? Or do you think with the proper attention you could get some of these items for 2% less? In the context of $3,000,000 in gross sales, cutting the costs of all expenses by 2% will tack on an additional $60,000 in net profit at the end of the day.

So, with operating expenses down 2% or $60,000, plus the 3% pick-up in prime costs or $90,000 will add an additional 5%, or $150,000 to net profit. This essentially has doubled the original $150,000 in net profit to a net of $300,000.

Our clients are disciplined in the restaurant culture. It is not because they are frugal or cheap-it also certainly does not come at the expense of a quality product at a terrific value. Yet it is through methodical management of daily reporting of information which can be an important tool where purchasing and inventory control are involved. Maximizing inventory through the use of specials is a great means of minimizing spoilage, as well as, potentially introducing profitable and more permanent menu items. Staffing is also a huge area of control-especially when it comes to the right vs. wrong time to cut servers for the night.

A wise person once said to me, “if you turn your back on your business, your business will turn its back on you.” Simply put, the tone must be set at the top. Managers should be trained to be cost conscious. It is imperative that they understand the concept of controlling expenses. For example, preventative measures should be taken by management to convey to staff the importance of limiting unnecessary loss, such as the inadvertent disposal of silverware and/or linens, such as napkins.

There are methods we will touch on in future articles that are obvious. Yet it can easily be missed that a percentage here and a percentage there has an impact on your bottom line. And if you have multiple locations, your income will multiply too!

Sandy Horwitz & Deryk Konhauzer 

Pets at Work? Absolutely.

This week at Skyline I learned that our team mascot and my dog, Lilly Mae, has a broken metacarpal on her front left paw. After watching her limp around for a couple of days and then not putting any weight on it at all, I finally took her to my veterinarian, Belmont Animal Hospital -who also happens to be an active Skyline ERS client. Dr. Baker Eadie took x-rays and confirmed the bad news.

What does this have to do with business you might be asking yourself? Well allow me to explain…

When I started Skyline, Lilly was my only companion and co-worker. She would sit there next to me on the floor and look at me in awe all day because in my previous professional life, I could not take her to the office. Now I was with her all day and all night. We became much closer during those first months before I made my first hire. She went everywhere with me. We were basically inseparable for 3-4 months. I’ll have to admit that there were several unilateral, intra-species conversations with her during that time where I asked her advice, looked for feedback for those entrepreneurial decisions, and generally bounced ideas off of her like a crazy person. She never answered but she always gave me a reassuring look and would jump up in my lap to remind me that she supported me, no matter what my decision. During this time in my life she picked me up on days when I questioned my professional move away from the security of my family’s business to start my own, and lifted my spirits every single day just with her presence.

Skyline now has 5 employees. Lilly stays in the office with all of us all day and couldn’t be happier. She marvels at us humans talking on the phone, clicking away on our machines, and discussing ways to help save our customers money on a daily basis. She is always the first in the room to feel/vibe if someone is down, depressed, or just doesn’t have the motivation that day. It is really kind of uncanny. She will walk up to all of us when she senses something is off and will nudge her nose into our leg for a head-scratch or back rub and as nuts as it may sound…it helps.

There have been numerous articles published on the positive effects of pets in the workplace and I truly believe that pets make for a more enjoyable, relaxed, and productive environment. Work should be enjoyable and happy. Pets facilitate those feelings and specifically contribute to a cohesive team concept. Lilly has literally been the glue that has kept us all together unknowingly and through her sweet, gracious, loving manner. Anyone that knows her knows that she is truly one of a kind when it comes to dogs; well-behaved, smart, sweet as pie, clean, gracious, inquisitive but not annoying, respectful, intuitive, laid-back, and one of the best damn bird dogs I have ever hunted with!

I realized today that I wasn’t the only one at Skyline that felt this way about Lilly when I informed everyone that I was taking her to get x-rays. Every single Skyline member texted me throughout the day for updates on her status independently. It was heartwarming, touching, and confirmed what I already knew: Lilly is as much a part of Skyline as any of us.

I write this blog to officially thank my sweet dog, Lilly Mae, for her unconditional love and support for me and Skyline…every single day. She makes coming to work fun and happy for me and the whole team. There is no doubt in my mind that Skyline would not be the same today without her.

I wish her a speedy recovery and hope that she is not in any more pain, as she would do for all of us at Skyline if the roles were reversed.

Me and Lilly Mae

Until next time,

Jason Ritchason -President/Owner

Nashville Business Journal Article (Published 10/14/11)

Spotlight: Banking

Why operations could be ticket to cost savings

Premium content from Nashville Business Journal by Jason Ritchason, Guest Columnist

Date: Friday, October 14, 2011, 5:00am CDT

Jason Ritchason is president and owner of Skyline Business Consulting, a Nashville firm that specializes in helping businesses cut costs.
Since fall 2008, many businesses have been scratching their heads when it comes to finding new sales revenue. For the most part, client retention has superseded prospecting new business in importance because of the Darwinistic economy. Clients have moved overseas, cut back dramatically, merged or closed altogether, creating a virtual feeding frenzy for the surviving companies that are still generating purchase orders.

One area that is rarely seen as a source of profit is found within businesses operating expenses. If implemented correctly, the following categories can help any company increase its bottom line almost immediately.

Consolidate vendors

By contracting with vendors that offer more than one essential good or service needed in operating your business, you can drastically reduce the costs of procurement in both time and money, even if you pay a little more for some individual line items.

Studies have shown that ordering a good or service from another company can cost from $100 to $800 per order to process from start to finish. The fractional savings found on isolated purchases is dwarfed by the costs of the time spent researching and processing the paperwork from all of the different departments until that order is in the books as an expense entry. Additionally, joining group purchasing organizations also has proven to be an extremely effective way to lower costs by leveraging the purchasing power of many companies into one consolidated group.

Outsourcing

Too often business owners focus their time on running their businesses instead of steering them. They become control freaks that have to be involved in every decision. This is a fatal flaw that can be corrected by outsourcing.

Outsourcing has traditionally had a negative stigma. However in the past 10 to 15 years outsourcing companies have come a long way. Small, medium and even large companies are finding that outsourcing their IT, HR, payroll, advertising/PR, customer service, accounts receivable/accounts payable and even sales departments has enabled them to significantly reduce costs while still maintaining complete strategic control.

Technology

Technological innovation for business has redefined doing business and can save companies thousands of dollars a year. From social media/advertising to e-commerce, utilizing the most current technology available for your company can produce huge results in both time and money. Sites like Skype, PayPal    , eBay    , LinkedIn, Dropbox and now all of the “cloud” sites are literally redefining the overhead associated with travel, accounts receivable/accounts payable, selling dead inventory, purchasing lead lists, buying storage hardware or even having a server.

By researching any, if not all, of these suggestions, your business could uncover hidden profits within your expenses that can add to your bottom line … while we all wait for the economy to bounce back to 2007 levels.

Jason Ritchason is president and owner of Skyline Business Consulting, a Nashville firm that specializes in helping businesses cut costs.

The Importance of Being Earnest

This week Skyline truly learned the importance of being earnest, open, and honest. Sometimes no matter how diligent you are, mistakes can happen,

just because they happen. But how a company handles those mistakes can define the character, reputation, as well as the success, of that company for years to come.

Without going into too much detail, because of some personnel issues that we had, the ball got dropped for one customer. Instead of trying to hide or elude the reality of the situation, we decided to fess-up to what went wrong and why. We have since addressed the issue, rectified it, and moved on. But because of our forthrightness, pro-active and humble approach, I can guarantee that we have a customer for life, and one that will testify to our character as a business…which will inevitably lead us to more business opportunities.

I can not emphasize how beneficial that act can be for all businesses. Through my selling career, I have had numerous opportunities to sell my customers something that I knew they would not be happy with from a price, quality, or service standpoint. And early on in my career I rolled the dice and sold them it anyway. I never felt comfortable doing this but because I was so commission driven, I thought that my interests were more important than my customers interests. I couldn’t have been more off base if I tried!

Trusting my values, character, and business instincts, I decided that no matter how bad the news, or no matter how much money I would lose in commissions, the truth is always the best policy. And that’s when it all changed…

The more bad news I was open about, the more items that I recommended my customers buying from someone else because I couldn’t compete, the more purchase orders I got from my customers. I started making commission dollars hand-over fist! Most of the time, I wouldn’t even be asked what the price was because I had proven my trustworthiness and character by passing on sales that were all but guaranteed and instead walked away from.

Telling your customers how it is, and specifically when you are at fault, creates a loyalty that is hard to break. Honesty is the best policy, personally and professionally. Even if the error is so egregious that you get fired, maintaining your values and integrity has a dollar figure that can not be matched.

Walk away from a sale if you can’t provide the customer exactly what they want and need. You will get 10 in return…

Until next time…

Jason Ritchason -President/Owner

Can a Business Diet???

What is “Lean Management”??

With the apparent struggles in today’s economy, panic has begun to set in with business owners and decision makers everywhere. What are the results? Companies have realized that to survive they have to find ways to eliminate waste. This can be accomplished by implementing the Lean Management concept. In short, Lean Management means more production with fewer resources. From a vendor perspective, sellers of supplies and services have had to restructure their sales approach and profit margins based on client’s fears, economic hardships, and general awareness of softening market demand. Conversely, customers have begun demanding more and more value/service for their dollar.

A large portion of customer awareness comes from the evolution of procurement departments inside corporations. These procurement specialists excel in negotiations and cost cutting measures and have begun to hold vendors accountable for maintaining a competitive market value for the supplies or service they provide. This has opened new opportunities for companies to use leverage for better contracts, price guarantees, volume discounts, rebates, and improved service levels. Additionally, “internet” shopping has become the kryptonite for vendors margins. In the click of a mouse, businesses can check to see if they are getting fair market pricing and often switch vendors constantly.

The efficiency a company can pursue comes from the act of optimizing flow throughout the process of the product or service. To start, a company should implement managers meetings to discuss, analyze, and identify the specific areas of waste. Some key areas of waste found within most companies include the following:

-Waste One:  Unnecessary Transportation

This is important because goods have a tendency to get damaged or lost when they are in transit. Valuable time and money resources are spent in this process, whether it is human energy or fuel from a fork lift. Un-needed transportation costs that can be included for free if requested in delivery contracts, severely impact company’s cash-flows. Back-hauling, GPS routing/delivery software, and transportation co-opping have been used effectively to reduce transportation waste.The ability to minimize transportation costs will increase company efficiency and always add to the bottom line.

-Waste Two:  Over Processing

In this case, over processing occurs when too much time, money, or effort goes into producing a product than what is actually needed. Simplifying SOP’s and streamlining processing protocols have tremendous value for all companies. Transferring manual tasks to automated, or even virtual systems, can restructure human capital towards more revenue generating activities while improving time and costs of production simultaneously.

-Waste Three:  Motion

This relates to the placement of machinery with an interest in keeping workers from walking 50 yards and picking up spare parts every hour, thus becoming wasted motion. Additionally, administrative motion waste can be reduced by very simple solutions like moving copier/fax machines, adding machines, or yet again…implementing wireless or virtual technology to maximize efficiencies.

-Waste Four:  Inventory

Inventory is a necessity for most companies. However, too many raw materials, finished products, or administrative supplies being held will create problems in cash flow. Constant analysis of a company’s turns ratio of goods is an absolute must. The less time it stays on the shelf while your money is tied up and being charged interest through your LOC, the more profit your company will make. This waste category is the most common issue found within ALL businesses and one of the easiest to address.

-Waste Five:  Defects

Defects in product, back-ordering, failed services, etc., are a HUGE drain on profitability. The redundant time and effort of “fixing” the problems on orders that have already been invoiced can be a department unto itself within some companies! Knowing exactly where your business’ flaws are and constantly having data to see where they begin and end are an essential aspect of any business.

-Waste Six:  Waiting

The time that companies will waste while they wait for resources to be put into use is very annoying and inefficient. It will affect the flow of productivity and outflow of product. Develop SOP’s not only within your business, but outside as well with your vendors. Create clear guidelines on terms of both service AND time requirements associated with these services. For instance, only allow vendors to deliver products and services between 2pm and 5pm. This reduces interrupted workflow, coordinates the entire office, and will make EVERY company more efficient and profitable.

Clearly there are multiple other areas of waste and tips toward eliminating them in a business. But for the purpose of this blog, understanding what “Lean Management” is, identifying some common areas of waste, and how to eliminate that waste from your business, we hope it helps…

Casey Price –Business Development Executive

Beggars Can Be Choosers!

If you are a small business owner in today’s economy, you may be wondering where you can find capital to help support the growth of your business or to source or manage working capital.  Today’s blog provides an outline of sources of capital available to many small businesses, with more detail to follow in subsequent posts…

SBA Loans

The SBA does not make direct loans to small businesses but rather sets the guidelines for such loans, which are then funded by its partners (lenders, community development organizations, and micro-lending institutions). The SBA guarantees these lending sources that a large percentage will be repaid (guaranteed by the govt.), thus eliminating some of the risk to the lending partners. SBA loans carry many pros and cons which will be covered in another blog.

Lines of Credit

A line of credit is essentially a credit account that can be readily accessible at the borrower’s discretion. Interest is paid only on money actually drawn down, although in some cases the borrower may be required to pay an unused line fee, often a percentage fee on money not drawn down.  Lines of credit may be secured by several classes of assets including equity portfolios such as real estate, accounts receivable, or inventory. Controlling ownership in equity or stocks in the company is shielded but loan covenants can be onerous.

Cash Flow Lending

Cash flow lending is debt financing where a company’s expected cash flows act as collateral for the loan and primarily consists of senior term debt and subordinated debt.  Lenders will consider a company’s historical cash flow characteristics, including the amount and stability of cash flows, as well as risks to future cash flows, in determining whether to lend and how much. This can be a very appealing source of capital for well established or larger companies.

Venture Capital / Private Equity

Venture capital and private equity capital may be available for the small business owner who anticipates significant growth and can clearly demonstrate a path to achieve it.  Generally, the riskier and earlier-stage the company is, the more expensive the equity capital will be. With this source, there is no scheduled guarantee of payments on invested capital, thus allowing this lending source to require large (often times controlling) equity stakes and/or multiples of gross profit dividends before the “owner” sees any return. Venture Capital/Private Equity customarily deals with several millions of $$ and is not applicable to a “mom-and-pop” business model with slow to steady growth models.

Angel Investors

Angel investors are typically high net worth individuals, or consortiums of high net worth individuals, with an interest in investing in early-stage companies and startups.  These individuals can often be located through networking and local and regional entrepreneurship organizations and are normally structured via equity stakes or preferred dividends on profits. Angels have the ability to demand equity or profit concessions along the same lines as the Venture Capital / Equity groups but typically act as silent partners and not acting management.

I will go into much further detail in blogs to come with each source but wanted to make our readers aware of the many options of funding that are available and at what costs from a 30,000 foot viewpoint. Depending on your business, any one of these sources of capital could help take your business to the next level.

Edwin Wilson – VP of Sales

Networking with Confidence

What is networking? 

Why should I do it? 

How much time does it take? 

Which group(s) should I join? 

I’m not in sales, how will this benefit me or my company??

These are all very common concerns when contemplating and/or deciding to begin networking and the pros and cons associated with it. Without answering all of these questions specifically, I feel that the most important aspect with networking is to be involved in a variety of networking groups because it does not limit you to one business vertical or geographical area while simultaneously reaching a much broader audience by virtue of diversification. And networking by definition is:

the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically : the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.

Therefore, the more you are out there promoting yourself or your company and cultivating relationships with different networks, the better the odds are of you landing that new client. Because as we all know: people do business with people they know. Period.

Adding to this theme, every networking group will have a specialty or focus that could benefit you or your firm. But clearly, successful networking involves not only gaining referrals but giving referrals. And the old adage that ‘giving to receive’ couldn’t be more apt than with networking. You will be shocked at how many business opportunities you receive by completely focusing on setting up your networking colleagues with potential clients for their benefit…regardless of their closing success.

One of the most uncomfortable hurdles in networking is the act of actually introducing yourself to new people. No matter how fearless you might be, it is awkward and somewhat stressful. The best way to meet someone at a networking event is to offer them a firm handshake with a non-assuming smile, and nothing more. Once engaged, try to discuss something positive about the event, or a recent introduction, so the individual or group you are speaking with can find a common talking point. This will make them feel more comfortable and you as well. Don’t speak about your company or yourself until asked, and even then be somewhat mysterious about what you do to subliminally encourage follow-up questions where you can be more specific while gauging their true interest in hearing more about you and your company. However, don’t forget that qualifying them as a potential client or referral resource during your talk should always be on the forefront of your conversation.

Following-up could compete directly with diversifying your networking events in the importance hierarchy of networking. Without prompt, courteous, succinct follow-up, spending time at networking events is absolutely a waste of your time. Make sure to write an email or txt (never phone them…too pushy and too personal) within 24-48 hours after meeting them and suggest a meeting at another time and venue where the two of you can really get down to business.

At the end of the day, it is essential to do your due diligence in order to capitalize from your introductions and these tips will help you be better at networking with new people. But remember to be yourself. No one wants one person one day and another person the next.

Networking is designed for introductions and new business relationships that result in new revenue. Don’t be that person that misses out on a huge potential payday because you are too scared, skeptical, or uninformed to try it…

Troy Bielicki -Director of Sales Development